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Thread: tube shelf life

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    baj
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    tube shelf life

    How old do tubes have to be before the chance of a flat increases significantly? Do you ever replace tubes just because of age? Once I got a flat and someone I was riding with was shocked that I was using a 3 year old tube. Do they age more quickly on the bike than in the box?

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    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    Sheldon Brown suggest that they have infinite shelf life.

    Enjoy

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    Be more like Muir hillyman's Avatar
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    I know tires are better 'aged' so I wouldn't be surprised that tubes would be too.
    Its under pressure and exposed to the elements that wear them out. How long that takes is anyones guess.
    Quality of the tube is the main thing there. Walmart tubes blow out anywhere anytime.
    Last edited by hillyman; 05-25-06 at 05:24 PM.
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    baj
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    OK, so shelf life is very long, but how long on the bike before they should be replaced?

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    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    A quote from the master:

    "Without seeing it it is not "obvious" that it needed tires...tires don't generally go bad with age, at least since cotton cord tires went out i themid '60s.

    Replacing tubes that still hold air is always a waste of time and money. Tubes are even less subject to age-deterioration than tires are.

    See: http://sheldonbrown.com/flats and: http://sheldonbrown.com/tires for some useful tips.

    Sheldon "If It Ain't Broke..." Brown"

    Enjoy

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    I had a tube in my seat bag for 3 years. When I finally got a flat the tube was useless it had several small holes in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by !!Comatoa$ted
    I had a tube in my seat bag for 3 years. When I finally got a flat the tube was useless it had several small holes in it.
    That's exactly why I quit carying thumbtacks in my seatbag.

    Enjoy

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    baj
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    I recently put air in the tire of a bike that hadn't been ridden in about 4 years; the bike was 12 years old and for all I know the tube was original. The tube split (a big hole, not the kind of thing I would put a patch on) before I was done pumping. I figured it was age, but I also hesitate to question the wisdom of Captain Bike. In general though rubber products deteriorate with age, so it's not clear to me why tubes would not. You're not supposed to use old car tires, for instance.

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    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baj
    I recently put air in the tire of a bike that hadn't been ridden in about 4 years; the bike was 12 years old and for all I know the tube was original. The tube split (a big hole, not the kind of thing I would put a patch on) before I was done pumping. I figured it was age, but I also hesitate to question the wisdom of Captain Bike. In general though rubber products deteriorate with age, so it's not clear to me why tubes would not. You're not supposed to use old car tires, for instance.
    Tubes _installed_in_tires_ are protected from environmental degradation, because they're not exposed to light nor to fresh air/ozone.

    My advice was not to replace a tube that holds air, which does not describe baj's tube.

    Old car tires (and old bicycle tires) were cotton canvas, which is prone to rotting. This is not an issue with modern tires made from nylon and similar fabrics.

    Old car tires were bias ply, and didn't provide as good road holding as people expect these days, now that radials are the norm for cars.

    Bicycle tires should be replaced if they're lumpy/misshapen, or if the tread is worn too thin, or if there are cuts big enough to let the tube protrude. Otherwise, theres no safety related reason to replace them.

    I see too many old bikes with wonderful Japanese tires where the great old tires get replaced with inferior cheapo 3rd world replacements.

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    baj
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    Thanks, Sheldon!

    The point about tires in use not being exposed to ozone is an excellent one.

    By old car tires, I meant that I have read that tires should be replaced after say 5 years, so I didn't mean really old tires. But as they say you can't believe everything you read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Sheldon "Waste Not, Want Not" Brown
    So let it be written.
    So let it be done.

    Enjoy

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    Senior Member divineAndbright's Avatar
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    I have a 1968 bicycle that still has the original tubes, no problems with em.

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by divineAndbright
    I have a 1968 bicycle that still has the original tubes, no problems with em.
    You are lucky. I have always found that a new tube can sit on my shelf for a few years without any deteriation in quality, Never had a tube longer than that so can't quote for a longer period. However- Once out and used- Then they start to go off fairly quickly. I have a batch of Michelin tubes bought in 2002, and I still have one new one left in the box, but If the tubes are fitted with a liberal showering of Talc, they do last. Then out on the road you get a puncture on a wet day- repair it but the tube gets wet and loses the talc. 6 months later and you puncture again and you find the tube stuck to the tyre. Always happens to me and when you pump it up- It has thin patches on it that balloon up out of the tyre. That is the time for me to Chuck it.

    If you keep them talced- They seem to last a good few years, but once it "Dries" out- then chuck it.

    Edit- Correction on the brain not working.---That should have read as meaning- You pump the tube up out of the tyre and it then balloons out
    Last edited by stapfam; 05-27-06 at 03:16 AM.
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  14. #14
    crushing all limitations
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    I also recently found a bike from '68 in the trash with the orignal tires and tubes. I pumped 'em up and they were good to go!

    I think latex tubes may degrade with time though. I recently bought a pair of vittoria latex MTB "on sale" from an internet vendor and they both failed inside the tires (@40 psi) within a couple of days. No punctures either, they just disintegrated. I'm guessing that they were on sale because they were old. Incidentally they weren't all that much lighter than lightweight butyl tubes either

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    I carry a spare ultralight 65gram tube in my seat bag that is 8 years old and it's still good; the only reason holes would had gotten into it would be due to some duf not protecting the tube from the other stuff in the bag, that's why my tube is in it's original box.

    Tubes can last a very long time even in a tire as witnessed by another poster that aired up a tire/tube from the 60's; problem with that though is depending on how it was stored the tire may be severly compromised due to ozone attacking the outside of the tire and the tube may have "glued" itself to the inside of the tire and first time you go to remove it it will rip apart.

    Latex tubes can rot.

  16. #16
    Horizontal Trackstand
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    UV and heat can affect rubber -- I figure if it's kept in the dark in a cool place, it should stay, um, "fresh"
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    Gios my baby hiromian's Avatar
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    I just put 125 original km on 1974 tubes and tires. They came with the bike. Heres a pic
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